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Last Updated: Friday, 7 September 2007, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Electric shock collar ban plans
Two dogs under an umbrella
The training devices are often used only as a last resort
The Scottish Government is considering whether to ban or restrict the sale of electric shock collars for dogs and cats, amid animal cruelty concerns.

Supporters of the training devices, which pass a current to the neck, claim they have helped to save the lives of thousands of animals.

Critics have argued that they cause too much pain and distress.

Ministers have launched a consultation to gather the views of animal experts and organisations on the way forward.

Electronic training aids, which can also take the form of leads and mats, can currently be bought from pet shops and over the internet for as little as 25, and Scottish Government officials believe their popularity is increasing.

There has been strong support for a ban, or at least restrictions to be placed on electronic training aids
Richard Lochhead
Rural Affairs Secretary

There are strong views for and against their use and, depending on the outcome of the consultation, ministers could use existing animal welfare laws to regulate their sale through a licensing scheme - or ban them altogether.

Other devices on the market include collars which deliver an ultrasonic sound or spray of water.

They aim to cut out animals' bad behaviour through their association with the unpleasant sensation, but critics, including the British Veterinary Association, have said that they can sometimes have the opposite effect and claim negative training can be less effective.

The Scottish SPCA has expressed further concern over the potential for misuse if they continue to be freely available to the general public and police dog trainers stopped using them in 2000.

Manufacturers of the aids however, have insisted they are safe and humane and have compared the level of current delivered to that of a static shock.

Backers have said they have been successfully used as a last resort method to train problem animals not to attack or chase people or eat dangerous substances.

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said the government had an open mind on the issue and wanted to gather as much informed opinion as possible before making a decision.

"There has been strong support for a ban, or at least restrictions to be placed on electronic training aids," he said.

"However, no decision on any such regulation can be made without robust evidence to support it."

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